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Romance Funny Happy

Atsuo knew something was wrong when he heard the fire alarm blaring as he approached his apartment. The noise got louder when he opened the door and was accompanied by a string of curses from his girlfriend. He followed her voice and found her in the kitchen. He was immediately assaulted by the smell of burnt food. Yukiko was violently shaking a fire extinguisher while aiming it at the stove, where he saw a wok on fire.

“Is everything alright, hun?” Atsuo asked, trying to ignore the piercing fire alarm.

Yukiko’s head snapped toward him and her eyes grew wide. She was wearing a loose shirt and panties, with her dark hair tied back in a messy bun.

“You weren’t supposed to be here for another few hours,” she said, ignoring the fire.

“My shift ran short,” Atsuo said as he walked toward Yukiko. He turned off the stove, then picked a large lid from the counter and covered the wok.

“I’m so sorry, you weren’t supposed to see this,” Yukiko said, disappointment clear on her face. “Well, I wasn’t supposed to set our food on fire.”

“Eh, it’s a learning experience,” Atsuo said. The smoke filled up their tiny studio apartment quickly, so he opened the kitchen window to clear the air. Then he pulled the stool from beside the counter and placed it below the still screeching alarm. He climbed on top, hoping the stool would hold up his weight, and shut off the alarm. Yukiko offered her hand and helped him climb down. He replaced the stool beside the counter and scanned the kitchen. He found soggy, overcooked rice in one saucepan, burnt noodles in another, some meat and veggies cut unevenly on a chopping board, and a mix of spices spilt on the counter and floors. 

“Well, looks like some things might be salvageable," Atsuo said. "I can continue where you left off.”

“No,” Yukiko said. “It wasn’t supposed to go this way. I ruined it.”

Her eyes were watery and she blinked away tears.

“Babe, it’s okay,” Atsuo said, cupping her face and kissing her softly. “We can cook together; nothing is ruined yet.”

“I did ruin everything,” Yukiko said, sniffling. “You always cook, so I wanted to do something nice for you. But this is so much more difficult than I thought. I almost burned down our apartment.”

Yukiko wiped away her tears with the back of her hand.

“Come here,” Atsuo said, extending his arms. Yukiko slammed into him and wrapped her hands around his large figure. She buried her face in his chest and sobbed. Yukiko usually wouldn’t cry about something as small as ruined food, so there was something else bothering her. Atsuo kissed her forehead and rubbed circles along her back. When her sobs died down, he pulled away a little to look at her. “Let me tell you what; I won’t cook, but I will tell you what to do. That way, you will do all the work.”

Yukiko thought about it for a moment, then nodded her head.

“Okay,” she said, pulling back and wiping her tears. “You go take a shower and change while I clean up. Then you can show me what to do.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Atsuo said, grabbing her face gently and planting a soft kiss on her lips.

***

Their dining table was covered in empty plates and utensils. Atsuo had to admit that Yukiko was good when she knew what do to. She changed into a nice dress just before they started dinner. She also brushed her hair so it fell neatly over her shoulders. Yukiko never failed to impress him by how quickly she was able to clean up.

“I will be honest, that was better than expected,” Atsuo said.

“I had the best teacher; how could anything else go wrong?” Yukiko winked at him.

“Maybe next time you could try without my help,” Atsuo said.

“Whoa there,” Yukiko said, sitting up straighter. “Let’s not jump to that just yet.”

Atsuo laughed, “All alright. Maybe we can cook together once in a while.”

“Yeah,” Yukiko beamed at him. “I had fun.”

“I did too,” Atsuo said, extending his hand to hold Yukiko’s.

“Wait, I have a surprise for you,” Yukiko said, jumping up from her seat.

Atsuo looked at her curiously as she walked toward the kitchen.

“I wasn’t being truthful when I said I ruined everything,” Yukiko replied. She opened the fridge and pulled two giant cupcakes, letting the fridge door close on its own.

“You made those?” Atsuo asked. Yukiko nodded and walked toward him. “They look amazing.”

“Thanks,” Yukiko said. She stood in front of the dining table, balancing the cakes with a slight frown on her face, as if she was comparing weights. Atsuo raised his eyebrow at her and she blushed before setting one in front of him.

They were even bigger up close; the base of the cake was as big as his palm. He took a fork and tore into the cake; it was chocolate with vanilla frosting. Atsuo took the first bite and stared at Yukiko in shock.

“You made this?” Atsuo said, having another bigger bite.

“Why; do you not like it?” she asked nervously.

“No, babe,” Atsuo said. “This is amazing. Where have you been hiding this talent all these years?”

“I used to bake with my aunt a long time ago,” Yukiko said. “I remembered a few things.”

“You have to bake more often,” Atsuo said between bites. “I will do anything.”

“Anything, you say?” Yukiko asked with a mischievous grin.

“Yes, anything,” Atsuo said, taking a bite. “I’d offer right now, but I feel like I need to savour this.”

Yukiko giggled and watched him intently, taking a few bites of her own cake. At first, Atsuo assumed her nervousness was because she didn’t believe him. So he assured her that he really loved her cake. But as he sat there with the empty cupcake paper in front of it, Yukiko’s anxiety was clearer. Before he could ask what was wrong, she gasped and her eyes grew wide.

“This is such a disaster,” Yukiko mumbled with her head in her hands.

“What’s wrong?” Atsuo asked.

“Nothing,” Yukiko snapped quickly. Then she took a deep breath. “I forgot I was supposed to be on a diet.”

“A diet?” Atsuo said sceptically. “I find that hard to believe.”

“It’s for… an assignment,” Yukiko replied, pushing her cake to him. “Don’t worry about it. Here, you have mine.”

“Are you sure?” Atsuo said. “You can just save it for later.”

“Yeah, but I don’t want to,” Yukiko said. “Eat it, please.”

“If you insist,” Atsuo said.

Atsuo was suspiciously eyeing Yukiko and felt his fork hit something metallic. He looked at his cake and saw something underneath the frosting. Atsuo thought about hiding it from Yukiko, but she was watching him intently so she would notice. He knew this would break her heart, but he had to come clean.

“Babe, I think you dropped something in the batter,” Atsuo said, fishing out the piece of metal.

“It’s supposed to be there,” Yukiko said, looking slightly nervous.

Atsuo looked at her curiously, then carefully observed the metal. It looked like a ring. “What is this?” he asked.

“It’s an engagement ring,” Yukiko replied, her face red.

Atsuo tried to think of another time when words had left him completely, but his mind was blank. Yukiko took the ring from his fingers and walked to the sink. She rinsed it under the tap water and returned to stand in front of Atsuo, holding up the ring in front of her. He stood up, mouth slightly agape.

“When I was a kid, I dreamed of having the family I wished my parents had,” Yukiko said. “I wanted a loving husband, I wanted kids, I wanted a large extended family that I got along with. And more than anything, I wanted to feel loved. But then I had to grow up too quickly and saw the dream for what it was; a fairy tale, not realistic. And I think I would have continued to grow into a bitter person, full of anger and hatred. And I know this is cheesy, but then you came along and showed me what love was. I never thought I could love as deeply as I love you. I never thought anyone could ever love me. And I am so glad I was wrong. You make me want to be a better person. You made me realise that maybe my life is a fairy tale.”

Yukiko knelt on one knee and took Atsuo’s hand in hers, still holding onto the ring.

“I know this is a little unconventional,” Yukiko said, looking like she was about to tear up again. “But I love you so much. I want to marry you. I just want to be by your side for the rest of our lives.” Yukiko took a deep breath. “So, Atsuo, will you marry me?”

Everything felt surreal to Atsuo; like it was in a dream. Never in a million years had he imagined being proposed to. He felt like his voice was caught in his throat as he looked at the love of his life in front of him.

“Or… you don’t have to marry me,” Yukiko said, standing up abruptly, her face red. “What we have right now is great and we don’t have to change anything…”

“Yes,” Atsuo replied. “I mean yes, I will marry you.”

Yukiko beamed as if a huge weight was lifted from her shoulder. “May I?” she asked.

Atsuo nodded and held his left hand. She slid the ring on his finger; it was a perfect fit. He looked at the ring carefully. It was a silver band, and what he thought was the random placement of gems formed a pattern. A yellow topaz in the centre, with five pink rubies surrounding it; the flower from his family crest. Atsuo beamed at her and pulled her closer. He kissed her softly at first, then she wrapped her arms around him and deepened the kiss.

“I’m sorry,” Atsuo said, breathless. “This still feels like a dream. If I had known you changed your mind about marriage, I would have asked ages ago.”

“I know,” Yukiko said. “That’s why you’re the best.”

February 14, 2024 17:17

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2 comments

Dena Linn
19:19 Feb 18, 2024

Trixie... very nice story and you nailed a very surprising and sweet engagement.

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Trixie Pereira
20:50 Feb 22, 2024

Thank you :)

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